From a business, health, and environmental standpoint, sun grown cannabis has significantly more benefits than indoor cannabis. People have been growing cannabis outside for thousands of years. Before the days of LED lighting and air regulation systems, cannabis was cultivated in the great outdoors. The sad truth is that because of federal prohibition, outdoor grows today are hard to find and even more difficult to operate.
But are indoor grows really the best option for the environment? The carbon footprint of cultivating cannabis indoors is shockingly high. Sungrown cannabis can reduce the industry’s electrical consumption significantly.
To give you a better idea, here are notable environmental benefits to sungrown cannabis:
Sun-grown cannabis will reduce the carbon footprint of the industry
The Journal of Energy Policy estimates that indoor cannabis grows takes up 1% of the entire United States power consumption. Indoor grows use an average of 8 times more energy per square foot as commercial buildings. That is A LOT of energy! Growing cannabis indoors requires an intense amount of light to mimic the sun, and using artificial light to successfully grow cannabis means that farmers need to use high-intensity light bulbs, which are responsible for the high energy consumption. Sungrown cannabis, meanwhile, doesn’t require artificial light. Cannabis grows naturally (and freely) with sunlight.
To reproduce this effect indoors, growers must rely on high-intensity light bulbs. These light bulbs are the primary culprit behind the massive energy consumption of indoor grows. As if that weren’t enough, each of these light bulbs contain around 20mg of mercury, which has been linked to serious environmental and health issues. Mercury can also cause detrimental health problems for humans as well as animals. Sustainable lighting options are available, however, nothing can compare to actually giving your plants the light they need through sun exposure.
While some growers do use sustainable lighting options to reduce their carbon footprint, there’s still no comparison to the real thing. Artificial light cannot compete with the environmental benefits of natural sunlight.
Sungrown cannabis grows without air regulation
Sufficient airflow is key to high-grade cannabis. In fact, growing cannabis in an environment with great airflow is shown to:
- Strengthen plant stems
- Prevent mold, mildew, and plant rot
- Support maximum plant growth
- Defend against gnats, mites, and more
In an outdoor grow, the natural environment provides ample airflow. Indoor grows, on the other hand, are forced to use artificial ventilation. Artificial airflow burns a shockingly high amount of energy. According to staff scientist at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, Evan Mills, air is changed 60 times more often in an indoor grow than in a modern home.
This may explain why the energy bill alone for indoor cannabis operations can account for 1/3 of total production costs.
Farmers and growers know that sun-grown cannabis is ecologically superior
Growing the plant outdoors will give you a much better, high quality product since it’s grown under the sun’s full spectrum of rays, giving you a more complex plant. While many dispensaries already receive high-quality sun-grown cannabis products, as a consumer you have no idea if you’re consuming weed that has been grown indoors or outdoors. The challenge here is for cultivators who want to educate consumers through proper branding so that everyone will be able to tell the difference when it comes to the taste and overall quality of outdoor cannabis.
Even the most carefully cultivated indoor plants will never be able to compare to healthy cannabis plants that have been grown outdoors, when you look at both the size and yield. Outdoor plants that are well-tended to, and have been given everything that they need to grow optimally, will be able to give you up to 4 times more usable product than an indoor plant of the same size. Outdoor cannabis grows also do have a longer growth cycle but this is the reason why it has a much higher yield. The longer growth cycle also plays an important role in the development of trichomes, cannabinoids, terpenes, an overall potency.
Sungrown cannabis is less susceptible to mold and mildew
Did you know outdoor cannabis cultivators tend to use fewer fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides?
In the right environment and with the proper technique, cannabis cultivated outdoors is more resilient to the outside elements. This is because when cannabis is grown outside it becomes part of the natural ecosystem.
Cannabis, like any plant, interacts with its environment. Over time, plants can develop a natural resistance to potential threats. Cannabis interacts with elements in the natural environment to build resilience against temperature fluctuations and pest invasions. So while indoor grows could provide a near perfect environment, it also can stunt the plant from building natural resistance. As a result, indoor farmers are often forced to rely heavily on fertilizers and pesticides to keep plants healthy.
Sun-grown cannabis costs less to grow
Even if you have a small indoor setup, you’ll still need to spend on several things including containers, nutrients, lighting, timers, air circulation, grow media, and many more. On the other hand, if you grow cannabis outdoors, all you really need is healthy soil and some seeds. There are things that can help you further improve the quality of your yield, such as feminized quality seeds, organic fertilizer, and pest control.
Sungrown cannabis can preserve natural soils
Organic farming techniques are key to preserving the natural ecosystem. Sungrown cannabis allows farmers to implement more sustainable methods of cannabis cultivation. While it is possible to apply organic farming techniques indoors, farmers are limited in comparison to an outdoor grow. Outdoor cannabis can be cultivated in a manner that preserves the complex and beneficial nutrients of the earth’s soil.
Permaculture techniques such as companion planting (growing different crops in the same proximity) and planting ground cover (planting to maintain natural soil moisture and nutrients) can be integrated with an outdoor grow. Farmers using sustainable farming practices outdoors can preserve the natural soil content to retain carbon and offset global warming.
Sungrown cannabis supports the plant’s natural life cycle
Plants since the dawn of time have thrived under natural sunlight. Using the process of photosynthesis, plants have harnessed the sun’s energy to flourish. Outdoor cannabis cultivation supports this natural process.
Natural sunlight is significantly more complex than artificial lighting systems. Interacting with the sun and moon, cannabis grown outdoors is exposed to a full spectrum of natural lighting. Even the best light systems in the world cannot compare to the sun’s rays. Increased light exposure has been linked to higher cannabinoid and terpene concentrations in cannabis. Outdoor cultivation enables plants to operate in their natural environment (no lighting or ventilation necessary) It is impossible to duplicate mother nature’s capabilities even with a top-of-the-line indoor grow system.
Cannabis is an industry born out of activism, and we must apply these same ethics and values into our operations. This plant has the potential to make a massive positive impact on our planet. However, we must be mindful in our approach. Growers, farmers, and cultivators can prosper more (and help the environment) if cannabis is grown outdoors sustainably.